Learning and Research Center of University of Alcala - The LRC project has been developed by the University through the Intervention on Heritage and Sustainable Architecture Group (which belongs to the Architecture Department) and by the University’s Technical Office. The project development has combined various goals, such as maintaining the pre-existing building (more on the compositional issues than concerning the formal language) through the introduction of a complex functional program within a given volume. The Heritage rules of Alcalá assigned the building the maximum outdoors protection, so maintaining the façade and its formal and material characteristics was mandatory. The intervention consisted on rebuilding the interior space, maintaining a balance between the pre-existing conditions, the conceptual interpretation
of the disappeared elements and setting a new program of needs through the use of contemporary materials and figurative codes within a logical and coherent project. It is important to consider that the interior of the building had been continually modified over decades by the military, which did not preserve, except for the entrance hall, any relevant characteristic or original elements. Beyond preserving the outer limits of the building as it was required by the law, we tried to emphasize some of its key features: the entrance hall access as a transition element between the public space of the city (the square) and the public space inside the headquarters (the courtyard); the placement of different levels of slabs in accordance with the original levels and the maintenance of the height of the windows to conjure up the ancient user's relat
ionship with the outside space. Although the building was always very compartmentalized, much importance it was given to the restoration of the inner perception of the construction, whose urban perception it always was unified. Unnecessary divisions were eliminated as they interrupted the visual perception of this sober, austere and repetitive architecture. The global operation was performed using a contemporary contained language and limited to a structure of columns and slabs, and a roof structure to which the services are attached. A lift core and a longitudinal stair, which runs linearly across the building, are the only elements that cross and connect the different levels. The inclusion of some patios allows a unified vision of the building from different angles. The façade of San Diego square has been cleaned with water and sandblast, keeping the own signs of aging of bricks and stones, provided they didn’t compromise the future integrity of the masonry. The only contemporary intervention was limited to the design of the new doors and joinery. At the southern end of the roof, matching the San Pedro and San Pablo Alley, a discreet glass gazebo was located that offers a view of the towers of the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, which shape the skyline of the city. All functional actions affecting the building facades have been concentrated on the courtyard, where the emergency stairs towers highlight. They consist on two prismatic metal framed which force the contrast between the intervention and the pre-existences. To keep the austere appearance of the military building the rest of the facade has basically been chopped and revoked and the fascia lines and stone plinths have been cleaned up. Skylights have been inserted in the roof to illuminate the upper floor. The courtyard, minimally adequate with a protective concrete floor with a stamped finish, it is seen as a continuous and abstract surface on which the emergency stairs’ towers stand. When adaptation works to advance the rest of the block will take place in the future, the yard might be easily modified, given the lightweight of the performance. The ground floor is divided into two parts by the entrance hall. The left wing of the building has been left as an area reserved for the future location of the University Art Museum, which has an important collection of Contemporary Spanish and Latin American paintings. The museum will be located on the remains of the fifteenth century chapels found during the excavation phase, which were cataloged and are protected until they could be recovered when the museum will be built. To allow more flexibility in the layout of this museum area, the space was created using a large spans structure without intermediate columns. This has allowed for avoiding interferences between the new foundation and the archaeological remains, and to free space inside. The entry to the LRC occurs from the vestibule on the right side of the ground floor. From the entrance hall, past the access control desks, we reach the loan desk. The cataloging spaces and the technical floor are located behind it. The entire LRC program is developed on the upper levels, organized by floors and sectors. The organization in U of the old barracks, which was already present in the old three volumes set up, has been explicitly maintained by introducing service cores, communication cores and emergency halls, which physically divide the building coinciding with the same three volumes. The central volume, more limpid and wider than the others, houses the large workrooms, and reading rooms. This multipurpose space offers books consultation as well as individual study spaces and, mainly, collective study spaces, much in demand by students since Bologna Plan was established. Only the first floor of the southern volume attached to the main building it is occupied, in continuity with the great central space. The ground floor is intended to services. The side volumes, perpendicular to the central one, house the library staff’s work zones (right wing of the building) and other spaces such as silence rooms, researchers and graduate offices, some classrooms and rooms for seminars and research groups. The books deposit is located on the mezzanine, connected to all levels by an exclusive lift. The Alcalá City University Campus is known for the new use and the restoration of historical buildings from de XVII, XVIII an XIX century. An example of the modern practices on dynamic conservation of the historical heritage is the new Learning and Research Center (LRC) on the ruins of San Diego headquarter, built in 1859 on the site of the 1445 Franciscan convent of Santa Maria de Jesus. The new building is built into the skin of the head quarter of the nineteenth century. The overall performance respects the ancient remains discovered, clean the building of unwanted performances and adds the new architectural elements necessaries for the today use. The result is a wide space that can be run with the flexibility demanded by the constantly changing university needs and uses, of low maintenance, low energy consumption, and built adjusting costs to the current Spanish economic situation.